[INTERVIEW] With...False Heads

False Heads - L-R Barney Nash, Luke Griffiths and Jake Elliott           © Luke Nugent Photography

When The Guardian recently delivered its doom and gloom verdict on British guitar music declaring it ‘dead’, the community in and around specialist gig promoter This Feeling reacted with passion and some outrage.

False Heads from east London are one of the bands with a strong affiliation to This Feeling and they are in the process of taking their music into a wider setting.

Being one of the finest up and coming guitar bands around just now, definitely helps. Iggy Pop is just one key figure in music who has been singing their praises for quite some time now.

Guitarist and vocalist Luke Griffiths, drummer Barney Nash and bassist Jake Elliott are doing their bit for guitar music and are deservedly getting a positive response in return for their efforts.

When Iggy Pop world-premiered the band’s brilliant new single Retina on his BBC Radio 6 Music show Iggy Pop Confidential earlier this month there was a great sense of excitement.

But via 6 Music and Radio 1, the BBC, is not the only broadcaster who has been showing its support for False Heads, SiriusXM, and more precisely, The Rodney Bingenheimer Show, also had Retina clearly marked for a premiere as part of its schedule.

There is more than just good reason for the enthusiasm. Retina delivers on more level than one. It is a really good tune, there is that catchy guitar riff coupled with an appropriate dose of Kurt Cobain-esque vocals. If you take Nirvana and the vibe from the 1990s Seattle music scene, add a strong contemporary edge then you get an idea of what Retina is all about.

Luke’s distinct vocals and English accent have become key components and establish recognisable characteristics throughout False Heads’ repertoire.

The band’s popularity and reputation is growing not just in a niche, guitar music community, but is reaching more mainstream territory, showing just how much the three members are progressing.

They have just returned from a successful trip to Manchester, they were at Off the Record, the New Music and Conference Showcase, where they took part in a music industry panel discussion and they spoke about their career to date.

Luke: Having a conference geared at truly helping bands take a step up in their career shows that there are still people in the industry that really want decent music to come through and get a leg up.

It was a really inspiring day and the band got on really well, they managed to do some networking and had some ‘important conversations’.

Luke: The interviewer asked some interesting and engaging questions and we spoke about our journey so far. We got a great response and I hope the people there took something out of it.

The group is well-known for their intensity, energy and passion when they play live       © Laurine Payet     
The band has also just completed a UK tour which included playing in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, a great experience that has made the city one of False Heads’ key gig locations.

With several record labels being keen to sign the band, it is hardly surprising the three east Londoners are feeling the heat and getting increasingly keen to get something concrete in writing as soon as.

There is interest from majors and small independent labels but the band is no desperate rush to sign a record deal just for the sake of it. Things have got to be as close to perfect as possible. 

False Heads' popularity continues to grow                  © Luke Nugent Photography

In the early days they almost signed a deal, which essentially would have jeopardised things far too soon, before they even began.

There is a perhaps a slight misconception that signing a record deal is the ultimate goal and achievement in a band’s career, but above anything else, False Heads’ focus is on making really good music and continue to play the best live shows possible

They strongly believe that by focusing on those things, everything else will come together at a natural pace. For now they are happy to be independent and just focus purely on their music.

The band has established a reputation as a dynamic live band and built a strong following of fans and supporters around the UK. Most of their songs are created in a ‘live environment’ so to speak.

The band enjoy focusing purely on their music and live performances     

Barney: When you are busy recording in the studio and decide to go and play live, it will quickly become apparent if you are no good at playing your instrument.

Barney: In the studio the result can end up sounding alright because there are ways you can get around it. There will usually be a producer and you can edit your songs. But equally, if or when you find yourself in a live setting and it turns out you cannot actually do the thing you are supposed to be able to do, it becomes a problem.

Being a three piece probably makes it easier to work closely together on songs and the connection between the band members is absolute key. Rehearsing near the M25 in the outskirts of east London on an industrial estate adds some authenticity. The band’s video for Thick Skin was recorded there.

Barney: The context which we now create songs in has been integral to what has been produced. We used to rehearse in our studio and we moved literally into a shipping container and that is where we rehearse now and some of the songs that come out of there are a bit wild so to speak.

Barney: As a live band we have got some way to go, we are only just getting into the realms of where we want to be but that is a good thing, we will never achieve everything and that is kind of a nice though but also a bit annoying. Actually, come to think of it, we will get there eventually.

That False Heads will ‘get there’ is beyond doubt, they are already well on their way, and they have taken the first giant steps on their exciting journey.

Luke: There is definitely chemistry between us and we have invested a lot in the music as much each other. We work hard, we practice a lot and writing good songs is critical to us. I totally believe that comes out when we play live.

False Heads share the bill with Josh Homme, Frank Turner and Band of Skulls at A Peaceful Noise at London’s ULU on Saturday the 25th November 2017